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Keitai Kouture Photographic Exhibition Feature

Author: Saori Nakagawa
Wednesday, 17 January 2007

"In most respects (aural and visual), Andrez likes to steal glances into a metaphysical rear-vision mirror towards the “found art” chapter of the Dadaists’ handbook; he then flicks his gaze in the direction of the cut-up techniques of Brion Gysin and Tristan Tzara, with a sardonic eye on the deconstructive tendencies of post-modernism… and then throws it all into the air, like so much humbug confetti."

TranZfusion caught up with Andrez Bergen in the lead up to his exhibition at Brunswick Street Gallery

Tranzfusion: First up, the simplest but most pertinent question of all: Why is the exhibition called "Keitai Kouture"-
Andrez Bergen: It's a moniker I created a couple of years ago to label the lower-resolution photography I do with the inbuilt camera of my keitai - the Japanese word for mobile phone - and all of the photographs have been taken in Japan, in particular in Tokyo.
"Kouture" was just a bit of a joking pun on "couture", because some of the early shots explored more whacked-out elements of Japanese fashion and style. And fashion's made to be taken the piss out of, don't you think-
The tag stuck. It's now the name of my website as well.

I noticed on your Keitai Kouture website that there were a lot of references to Dada. What's the attraction of that style, and isn't it all a little anachronistic-
One of my favorite words: anachronistic. Personally, I think the word's got a bum wrap; I don't see anything wrong with anachronism. But, getting back to Dada, I think the ideas of that style are relatively timeless, and I love the sense of humor inherent in it. When I first saw a picture of Duchamp's toilet bowl, it blew me away and knocked my li'l socks off! Really! It was revelatory to realize that art didn't have to be all serious and high-brow; that you could approach it all with a sense of jocularity.

Then, in high school, I found a Cabaret Voltaire record - Voice of America - and they applied some of the same Dadaist principles to music. That was a huge influence on my own cut-up sounds that I started making under the Little Nobody and Schlock Tactile monikers about a decade ago.
But I think I could waffle on endlessly about the kudos of Dada, and the point I should be making is this: in whatever I do, be it music or photography or visual graphics, I usually apply a collage sensibility, along with an occasionally heavy-handed sense of mirth.
 
What is it about Tokyo that appeals to you as a photographer-
The place is mesmerizing. Really. There's so much here, on so many levels - literally - that you usually can't take it all in on first glance. There's a little bit here and there for everybody, and if I do a 360 degree turn in one place, I can usually find something that attracts my attention and it just cries out to be photographed - maybe a building, or a sign, a person, a window reflection, an advertising image. Whatever.
 
How did you start using the keitai camera as your principle tool-
I went to an exhibition in April 2004 of Yoko Umehara's photographic work, and on a website she'd been putting these wild keitai camera snap-shots. They kicked me around a bit, and made me rethink the whole photography thing. Before that I was aiming at high resolution and clarity. She made me see the more abstract possibilities at play right there in front of me, on a much lower resolution level. It's way more challenging - and therefore fulfilling when it works. Plus your regular Japanese keitai camera has lots of funky features and gimmicks…
 
Which photographers do you respect a

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